BWW Interviews: POTTED POTTERÂ's Dan & Jeff Talk New Cast in Manila Run, Memories of the Philippines & More!
Going to any new country we never had a show before is an honor. We're loving America at the moment; it goes the same for the Philippines. – Jeff Turner, co-creator and star of "Potted Potter"
"Potted Potter" premieres in Manila on Tuesday, August 28, and runs until Sunday, September 2.
New York, July 24, 2012 – During a Saturday evening performance of "Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience," a parody by double Laurence Olivier nominees Daniel "Dan" Clarkson and Jefferson "Jeff" Turner, at Little Shubert Theatre on 42nd Street, kids show up with "Harry Potter" collectibles in tow: golden snitches, wizard wands, and Horcrux lockets; some grown-ups even put on Hogwarts apprentices' robes – the "Harry Potter" movie saga may have made its final bow a year ago, but the "Potter" phenomenon continues to live and grow.
"When we started doing "Potted Potter" [potted means abridged in colloquial British English] seven years ago, we were huge 'Potter' fans. It's a loving homage parody. So everything we do is love for the book. We never in any point disrespect the book and its characters because we didn't want to go against the fans that we want. We'd rather do this in a fun way. The fans of "Potter" are so huge. Even tonight, there were people dressed in their robes, with their wizard wands. And these are not just kids, we have a full-grown woman dressed as Dumbledore, which is terrifying. When you see a middle-aged woman dressed as Dumbledore is a scary thing. But you don't mess with these fans," says Dan in an exclusive interview with BroadwayWorld.com.
However, Dan and Jeff's 70-minute (with no intermission) tribute show does not only cater to Potterheads or die-hard "Potter" fans. Based on the mixed crowds the production has been getting since it opened on Off-Broadway early last month, "Potted Potter" also appeals to those who have not read J.K. Rowling's seven "Potter" books or who have not seen their movie counterparts. In fact, Dan and Jeff have written the show with their extreme audiences in mind: In "Potted Potter," which is an engrossing quick guide to the "Potter" books, albeit with outworn slapstick devices every once in a while, Dan plays the "Potter" neophyte, who dons funny wigs and numerous headdresses depicting various "Potter" characters, e.g. Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Professor Dumbledore, Lord Voldermort et al., while Jeff plays the "Potter" go-to guy, who dons Harry Potter's signature black spectacles almost all throughout the presentation.
One by one, Jeff summarizes the seven "Potter" books whose main character he believes is utterly bland. Dan prances around the stage as Jeff's comedy sidekick, who can hardly wait for the books' finale and the duo's improvised Quidditch game, complete with neon ring-shaped goals on both sides of the auditorium, a beach ball that is tossed around, and a human-sized golden snitch, which prompts enthusiastic audience engagement.
"You've got so much happening in book four: the Quidditch World Cup; a tournament where you have to do a scene under water, and a scene in a huge maze; and a fight with a dragon; among others. How in a parody do we condense all these? We spent a whole bunch on the dragon as you saw tonight, and that's how we did it. That's tough," says Dan.
What was originally conceived as a five-minute sketch comedy show meant to entertain Potterheads waiting in line for the release of the sixth book, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," (Jeff's least favorite book in the series; Dan feels the exact opposite) at a London bookshop in 2005, has been expanded into a full-length theatrical production that toured the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and now breaking box office records in the United States, which even runs three performances on Saturdays at 2, 5, and 8 p.m., and extends until Sunday, September 2.
Good news is that theatergoers in the Philippines can also join the "Potted Potter" frenzy next month for a limited time. Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, Potted Productions, and Concertus Manila bring "Potted Potter" to Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City from Tuesday, August 28 to Sunday, September 2, for 10 performances only, featuring British actors Gary Trainor and Jesse Briton, playing the roles of Jeff and Dan, respectively.